Southwest Airlines is really glad to turn its Boeing 717s over to Delta Air Lines. So glad, in fact, that Southwest is paying the $100 million needed to repaint the 88 jets and redo their interiors.

That’s $50 million more than Southwest was planning to spend to convert those airplanes, now in the AirTran Airways fleet, as they would come over to the Southwest fleet.

Southwest decided soon after its May 2, 2011, merger with AirTran that it would prefer not to fly the 117-seat Boeing 717s. Two months ago, Southwest announced that Southwest would sublease the airplanes to Delta – 16 in 2013, 36 in 2014 and 36 in 2015.

 “For us to make a deal with Delta, we agreed to pay those conversion costs,” Southwest chairman and CEO Gary Kelly said Thursday on Southwest’s Q2 earnings call.

Southwest “amazingly found a home for all 88 of those aircraft,” Kelly said. “You might think of it as a volume discount that we were willing to offer to induce our sublease customers to take those aircraft.”

Southwest projects that it’ll bring in more revenues by flying larger Boeing 737s than the smaller 717s – more seats at about the same fuel and other operating costs.

“The value that we get from not flying the 717s and instead flying the 737s is substantial,” Kelly said. “So we’ll pay for that conversion cost in the first six months.”

Chief financial officer Laura Wright said Southwest will actually book about a $140 million charge for the project in the third quarter. But the net cost for converting the aircraft will be only $100 million.

The remainder is “financial assistance that is being provided by the manufacturer [Boeing] that will be recorded on our financial statements as a reduction in aircraft basis on future deliveries,” Wright said.

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